Tag Archives | Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Reeves Gouache

Reported By Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Favored by illustrators, gouache is commonly known as “the opaque watercolor.” I came by my set of 24 tubes by Reeves through a bad review. A woman that I scrapbook with brought them in (barely touched) with the pronouncement that they were there for the taking as she didn’t like them. Reeves gouache is considered student-grade and therefore quite inexpensive. A set of 24 tubes retails for around $14.99.

So, do I agree with my friend’s assessment? Well, I took them for a test drive when I made the layout seen here. I painted the clouds, sun, rainbow, and title on separate pieces of paper experimenting with different painting techniques (lots of water, little water, textured paper, flat paper) and experimented with drawing on the painted surfaces with both a black pen and white pen.

Here are my conclusions:

  • The Reeves gouache behaved very much like acrylic paint.
  • I had some issues with flaking and chipping when I used a heat gun to speed drying (something I often do with watercolor and acrylic paint, but they don’t chip).
  • I had a few issues with the tubes of paint:
    • The cap broke on one tube when I tried to close it.
    • One tube developed a hole in the bottom.
    • Two of the tubes had slightly explosive reactions when I opened them. The paint came flying out without my having squeezed them.
  • I liked having the ability to blend the paints (like on the clouds) if I wanted, but they also kept their integrity (like on the rainbow).
  • The colors are rich and brilliant.
  • The paint dries to a nice smooth finish, even on textured paper.

All in all, I think that you get what you pay for. This is a nice starter set of gouache. It’s cheap enough to allow for the curious to explore the wide world of gouache. Most of my quibbles are with the tubes. I feel very frustrated that on a first outing of these paints I had so many issues.

Do you have a brand of gouache that you like? Fill us in!


Reported By Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

You’ve probably never heard of Sultane. But, by the time you finish reading this article, I guarantee you’re going to want some!

Sultane is a brand new French paper manufacturer. They have come out with two releases so far. Both releases are of beautiful, thick, double-sided paper. All of the paper comes in two sizes, the 12×12 that we are used to here in the U.S. and a smaller 7.5×12 size and is sold together in a collection. As the website says (rough translations from the French) Sultane’s paper, “was born of a simple idea: offer quality paper with high weight and of the highest quality. A pack to offer more for the same price!”

Personally, I think that their designs are fresh and innovative. I love the colors and I know I’m going to overuse this word, but the quality is amazing. It’s almost cardstock weight, but with a more glossy and flexible finish. The paper cuts beautifully (a big plus for anyone using a die cut machine or punches) without any of the usual hairy pulp edges. And, I really like that the paper is double-sided. It makes it easy to use for mini-books, cards or altered items – where both sides may show – and allows me many more options while scrapping.

Sultane’s first collection is called “Duo Deco” and consists of bright colors and bold patterns. I particularly like the undulating tone on tone colors in some of the papers. Here are some layouts I created with this collection:

Sultane’s second collection (to be released this month) is called “I Dream of Flowers.” It is a lovely and romantic, monochromatic collection of reddish browns and pinks. Here are some layouts I created with this collection:

Sultane’s website is top notch. You can see some truly stunning work from the design team there. I particularly love the work by Andrea Gomoll and Graziella Carteron. Amazing stuff!

Because I am on the design team for Sultane, I have a little treat for you! You can win some of their fabulous paper simply by leaving a comment here at Craft Critique. Tell me what you like about Sultane (and be sure to include your e-mail). I’ll be posting a randomly drawn winner on my blog: Balzer Designs next Wednesday (February 13, just in time for Valentine’s Day).

If you are interested in purchasing some Sultane for yourself, you can do so through many online retailers. A complete list can be found here.

Alphabet Rub-Ons: Five Brands Reviewed

Reported by Julie Fei-Fan Balzer

Alphabet rub-ons. So many options. So little time.

The good news is that your choices are endless when it comes to brand and style of alphabet rub-ons. But, don’t be fooled by a pretty package or a rock bottom price. I tested five brands of alphabet rub-ons and here’s what I found:

BRAND: Making Memories
NAME: Mixed – brite

Sold in a clear box, which includes a popsicle stick, these rub-ons come attached together by a screw post in a swatch style book. Most letters of the alphabet have one page. At the back of the book there are some extra vowels and a full set of numbers and punctuation. To use them, simply cut off the letter you wish to use and rub away.

PROS: So easy to apply! These rub-ons go on smooth as butter, even using a popsicle stick! They will cling to photos, textured paper, metal tins, and transparencies. I love the ransom style alphabet and the fact that there are extra vowels in the pack.

CONS: If you want to use a letter that’s not at the end of the strip, you have to cut into the pack and it’s a bit awkward. I like to staple the other letters to the backing strip, which makes things much easier.

BRAND: Scrapworks
NAME: Alphabet Rub-Ons in Red and Pink

Sold in a metal tin, which includes a popsicle stick, these rub-on tins each contain two colors. Each color is in a different font. They come stacked, several letters to a sheet. There is a full set of numbers and some punctuation in each color/font included.

PROS: Very easy to apply, even with a popsicle stick. The tin is adorable (and let’s face it, I’m a girl who is a sucker for packaging). I like that the tin contains two fonts/colors. They’re a nice size too!

CONS: You have to staple the backing sheet to the letters to ensure that the letters don’t accidentally rub off or get stuck to each other. The tin can be a pain to sift through in order to find the letter you want (you have to take everything out).

BRAND: Me and My Big Ideas (MAMBI)
NAME: Monograms Value Pack

Sold in a plastic bag, which includes a popsicle stick, there are 48 rub-ons for each letter of the alphabet. They represent a big value as you get a total of 1,248 letters. Each letter of the alphabet has its own sheet on which the letter alternates between a black and a white background and several different fonts.

PROS: I like the style of these letters and the way that the letters seem to drift out of each square. They are easy to apply and will cling to multiple surfaces. Great value!

CONS: I wish that there were numbers and punctuation. Like the other rub-ons, you have to staple the alphabet sheet to the backing sheet and cut into the center to get what you want.

BRAND: American Crafts
NAME: Trademarks Jane in White

Sold in a matchbook style booklet, which includes a popsicle stick, each letter of the alphabet has its own sheet. In addition to the alphabet, this booklet contains punctuation and several calligraphic scroll-like designs. To use them, simply cut off the letter of your choice and apply.

PROS: Love the matchbook style design of the packaging. It is super easy to find the letter you want and these are easy to store. My favorite part is that because each letter is the same, you simply cut one off from the edge and keep moving. No stapling! They are easy to apply and the white really covers.

CONS: Like most white rub-ons, there is some cracking. I haven’t found a single brand where this is not the case. You simply have to be a bit more vigilant when you apply them. It must be a chemical issue.

BRAND: Heidi Swapp
NAME: Apple Pie in White

Sold in a plastic bag, this pack of rub-ons does not include an applicator. There are three black backing sheets for upper and lower case versions of each letter, all of the numbers, and some punctuation. To use them, simply cut out the letter you wish to use and apply.

PROS: I love the black backing sheet! It makes it very easy to see the white letters. The font is very cute and goes together to really look like cursive writing. I found that the rub-ons applied easily with a dry embossing tool (stylus).

CONS: Because there are so many letters on each sheet, you really have to snip in to get what you want. Another set of rub-ons requiring stapling. I also had a bit of trouble distinguishing some letters (p’s, f’s, j’s, and k’s). Also, a few of the letters partially came off onto the backing sheet before I had a chance to use them.

Let me know if you have a review of some of the many other brands of alphabet rub-ons!